Sonrisas Spanish is a communicative, standards-based curriculum for preschool and elementary school. For 20 years, Sonrisas has been the best elementary Spanish curriculum available, and they continue to add new components and update their materials.
The Big Picture
Interactive Elementary Spanish Curriculum
Sonrisas elementary Spanish curriculum is a communicative approach to acquiring language, so children learn by interacting in Spanish. Therefore, each component is carefully designed with the goal of building skills to communicate.
Pre-K – Middle School
Sonrisas is 3-level elementary Spanish curriculum for preschool through grade 6, with each level providing material for two years of instruction. Level III is also an excellent curriculum for middle school.
In addition, Sonrisas has a Calendar Time Curriculum and a Cultural Curriculum that can be used independently or as supplemental materials for the three levels. Sonrisas designs their lessons for two 45-60 minute sessions a week, but the consistent structure gives teachers flexibility to adapt the lessons to their scheduling needs.
Everything You Need
This elementary Spanish curriculum provides teachers with extensive content and excellent support. Specifically, Sonrisas comes with detailed lesson plans, CDs with songs and rhymes, reproducibles for art projects, student portfolio activities, a home report and rubrics for assessment. There is also an outstanding explanation of the curriculum and how to teach it effectively.
I cannot do this extensive program justice in this short space, so I encourage you to take time to read about the Sonrisas approach to teaching and explore their materials on the Sonrisas Spanish School website. I will highlight the features that make Sonrisas a remarkably effective elementary Spanish curriculum.
The Sonrisas approach values interaction and connection as the path to language learning. With Sonrisas, children learn by playing, singing and communicating in Spanish using developmentally-appropriate activities. They hear the language in a context structured to help them understand. When they understand, they acquire language naturally.
The communicative approach is built into the structure of the lessons, but the curriculum also includes detailed information about how to teach the content. Teachers have all the support they need to teach effective, engaging classes.
Detailed Lesson Plans
Sonrisas gives teachers an easy-to-use lesson plan. The plans are laid out so that busy teachers can see at a glance exactly what they need and what to do. The explanations are clear with plenty of examples, but there is no unnecessary clutter. Sonrisas has made the dozens of decisions that go into class preparation, freeing us to focus on interacting with children.
Each Sonrisas lesson has activities for circle time, story time, and art time. There is also a portfolio activity for each lesson which provides students with independent practice. A consistent routine frees children to learn Spanish, rather than trying to figure out what they are supposed to do next. This structure enhances learning and makes the most of our short time with our students.
Teachers use the Calendar Time Curriculum during the circle time portion of Level I or Level II lessons, or as a standalone curriculum. Calendar Time includes activities for the days of the week, month and season as well as the alphabet and geography. These activities have significant vocabulary and content, supported by colorful classroom posters and a world map.
Teachers use the posters in the Calendar Time Curriculum to create comprehensible input and engage with important vocabulary and structures. The lesson plans in the Calendar Time Curriculum provide detailed instructions for chants, verse and movement, as well as questions for the 30 alphabet posters and the map. This is a fabulous resource for any elementary Spanish class!
Children’s literature in Spanish is a key part of the Sonrisas curriculum. Picture books expose children to language in context and are a rich source of comprehensible input. Sonrisas carefully selects books to support the language in the lessons. Of course, stories are important exposure to new vocabulary and structures as well.
The art projects support the language in the lessons. They provide an opportunity to use the vocabulary and structures in class and also give families a way to use the language at home. The projects are simple, inexpensive and low-prep.
Sonrisas elementary Spanish curriculum integrates culture into the lessons with traditional songs and rhymes carefully selected for language learners. In addition, the curriculum includes a complete set of holiday lessons for teachers to include at the appropriate time of year. Sonrisas also has a Cultural Curriculum to combine with Levels I and II. These lessons introduce children to the culture and geography of different Spanish-speaking countries.
The portfolios for each level give students additional practice with the language outcomes for each lesson. Students complete the portfolio activities at the end of each lesson, either in class or as homework. The student portfolio also includes a home report with suggestions for parents on how to enrich their child’s learning.
These portfolio activities correspond exactly to what students learn in the lessons, so teachers can use them as assessments. Just as important, as students successfully complete each carefully designed activity, they realize how much they are learning!
Sonrisas curriculum continues to grow to meet the demand for quality Spanish learning materials. Level III takes their content-rich, communicative approach and incorporates more formal instruction of grammar, cultural perspectives and communication strategies. These lessons are designed for upper elementary grades or middle school.
Middle school Spanish is a challenge for many teachers as they balance limited class time and the need to transition students to traditional language classes in high school. Sonrisas Level III introduces grammar concepts, and reinforces them through TPR Storytelling, partner activities and readings. This communication-based introduction to the structure of the language is an excellent transition to high school Spanish.
Sonrisas Spanish is a beautifully-designed curriculum for preschool and elementary school. It is content-rich, ensuring that students have sufficient exposure to Spanish through activities, stories, and art. Sonrisas elementary Spanish curriculum also offers teachers unparalleled support with detailed information about how to most effectively teach the material. Their communicative approach incorporates best teaching practices to create a dynamic, interactive language experience that maximizes learning.